Breast milk: Every drop counts
06 August 2019 | Health
The bank currently supports more than 100 babies from state and private health facilities, said its director Birgit Mayer.
Mayer is also a registered nurse and midwife. Her co-director is Professor Clarissa Pieper, who is a paediatric neonatologist.
The two medical professionals have been working day and night for the past two years to make sure things fall into place, in order to “save the babies”.
According to Pieper, the donation of breast milk can boost the survival rate of premature babies significantly.
“Ideally, the mother's milk is the best for her baby, but although the donated milk may not be the best, it certainly is a better option compared with formula,” she said.
Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to donate their breast milk, which is used to treat malnourished and premature babies.
In an earlier interview, Pieper told Namibian Sun that the demand for breast milk is phenomenal, as the country is seeing a sharp increase in premature births.
She said in 2010 the country experienced 15 premature births every month, while in 2017, the figures were around 150 premature births per month.
“It is not only necessary for the baby's survival, but it is also cheaper for the government, in particular,” she said of breast milk donations. A premature baby born before the full development of the gastro-intestinal tract will need intravenous feeding, which is unbelievably expensive and the antibiotics required, along with monitoring and equipment, come at an extra cost, said Pieper.
At present most of the donated milk goes to state hospitals, where it is in high demand.